As spring approaches, time draws closer to gardening. This year, take the big step and grow some herbs. Listed below is a random list of just a few that are easy for beginners and great for your culinary dishes. Not only are they delicious in your culinary concoctions, but they also have medicinal purposes as well. These are the ones I felt like discussing today, and as time allows, I’ll talk about more.
Garlic – Garlic is easy to plant and to grow. The individual cloves are used as seeds. One ‘clove’ of garlic will grow a ‘bulb’ of garlic. The cloves should be planted individually, and they like a lot of sun. They are ‘winter’ hardy so generally planting is done in the fall before the first frost. But garlic can also be planted early in the spring as well, with the difference being that the final bulb size will be less due to the fact that they start to bulb at a certain time in the summer, no matter what. We’ve all heard garlic is good for you, but do you really know why? Recent Scientific findings have shown that garlic raises HDL cholesterol, lowers LDL cholesterol, offers anti-oxidant protection to cell membranes and inhibits cancer cell formation.
How to grow Garlic? Plant individual cloves, root side down, in 2 inch deep holes, about 8 inches apart. Ideally planted near the Autumn equinox (Sep), but very early spring is okay. Harvest when most of the lower leaves have turned brown (don’t wait for all the leaves to turn brown).
Ginger – Many of us already use fresh ginger in our cooking. If you don’t, please give it a try! Ginger can also be grown in a pot as many herbs can. They grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall in height, but they also have a nice ‘tropical’ look. Ginger is commonly used in the preparation of Chinese food. It can be found in the produce department of your local grocery store. Ginger tea also makes a great upset stomach remedy. It is used to treat indigestion, flatulence and motion sickness. It also has an anti-inflammatory activity which helps to ease arthritis pain. This is just a brief summary of some of ginger’s benefits. Give it a try!
How to grow Ginger? Plant a piece of ginger root about 2 to 3 inches deep. Since they do not like cold temperatures, a container works well so you can bring it indoors for colder climates. Keep the soil slightly moist, but not too moist or muddy. When the weather is above 70 regularly and warmer than 50 at night, then outdoors is Okay, in the warmest spot of the yard. When the plant has grown after a time, some of the roots can be harvested or replanted. They produce lush gorgeous flowers too. It may take a few years to get an established plant.
Turmeric – This herb is widely used in India. It’s a rhizome, or underground root like ginger. Most people that grow turmeric grow it in a pot indoors as it doesn’t like temperatures that are below 65 degrees F. They are planted by using the roots, turmeric does not produce seeds for propagation. It’s very aromatic and potent when used fresh, so to get it’s peppery zest in your meal, go easy. Turmeric is an herb that has anti-inflammatory properties like ginger. In India, it is used to treat anorexia, liver disorders, diabetic wounds and arthritis. Juice from the rhizome (root) applied to recent bruises, insect bites, and cuts reduces swelling. Recent scientific studies are showing that turmeric has anti-carcinogenic properties. Ken and I started incorporating it into our diets several years ago.
How to grow Turmeric? Plant the root cuttings of another turmeric plant. Plant the root 2 inches under the soil. If there are any knobs or buds on the root, turn it so they are facing upwards. The majority of people who are going to grow turmeric will have to do so indoors, and it does grow fine in pots. It will likely grow too large for a windowsill but can thrive in a sunny room. Eventually, the plant will start to turn yellow and the leaves will start to dry out (8 to 10 months). That’s when your turmeric is ready to dig up. Just dig up the plant and cut the rhizomes away from the stems. Wash off the dirt and it’s ready to use. For more turmeric, take one or two pieces of root and start another plant. If you are careful, it is possible to harvest a few root pieces without having to dig up the entire plant.
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